You’ll be surprised what war we need to wage next and where we need to wage it

Obama For WarThinking about the fact that Peace Prize Obama is taking us to war again, what popped into my mind was “Don’t bother; we’ve already lost.”  I know that’s an awful thing to say, but bear with me, as I explain why.  And, true to my post caption, I’ll also explain what I think our war strategy has to be if we have any hope of winning against a violent, implacable enemy that willingly carries a hot grudge for centuries.

As I often do, let me start with an anecdote to put my thoughts in context.  It all started when Mr. Bookworm asked me to watch an interview that Jon Stewart did with Gen. Tony Zinni (ret.), who’s shilling his new book. Mr. Bookworm was beyond thrilled to hear Zinni say that George Bush didn’t know is Arab from a Persian or his Shia from a Sunni when he started the war.  I wasn’t as excited.  I’ve heard Zinni make such comments before, and I think they’re for effect.

I have no doubt but that Bush and his crew knew the difference between Persian and Arab and Sunni and Shia. They just thought that they could paper these differences over by toppling dictators and plunking a boat load of democracy on top of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Bush administration’s naiveté didn’t lie in not knowing the differences, which is a clinical, academic sort of knowledge.  Their failure was their inability to understand that, just as Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, Judeo-Christian cultures are from Earth and hardcore Islamist cultures (no matter whether they’re Arab, Persian, Shia, or Sunni) are from the Star War’s Death Star, with a mad dash of Star Trek Klingon culture, the only difference being that the Islamists are even less nice than those dark, imaginary places.

If you don’t have centuries to wait for a death-centric culture such as the Islamic culture to mellow, and you want to turn it around really quickly, you have only one option: completely destroy its cities, as the Allies did to both Japan and Germany at the end of WWII.

What you cannot do, as Bush’s wars definitively proved, is destroy the upper level structure and hope for trickle down democracy carried on the backs of soldiers armed with both guns and lollipops. Democracy has to start from the ground up, and the ground must first be cleared and plowed over for Democracy to take root. Even under those optimum circumstances, you have to tend your crop for 50 or 60 years, rather than stop the moment a few of freedom’s little seedlings start poking their heads above the soil. To continue with my agricultural metaphor, if Iraq and Afghanistan were farms, what we did was tantamount to killing the farmer, burning a few of his crops, ripping out some others, scattering a handful of seeds over parched, hard ground, and then walking away blithely confident that a lush, bountiful harvest would suddenly appear.

Recognizing that the problem lies with the fundamental clash between Islam and the West allows us to get away from the statist habit of claiming that Bush’s two wars are the reason that radical Islam is suddenly in everyone’s face. Both Stewart and Zinni were in agreement that this was so, but they’re wrong, and speaking out of profound historical ignorance. If you pull back from America’s hot war between 2003 to 2013, though, you realize that radical Islam was already and always in everyone’s face.

From the moment Mohamed’s little tribe burst out of the Arabian desert, its focus was on conquest.  This aggressive trait was a necessity, because the faith’s stifling strictures mean that its adherents are virtually prohibited from doing anything that creates wealth.  The only way that they can bring wealth into their country is through conquest, slavery, and taxes on those who are neither Muslims nor slaves. For that reason, Islam’s swift, massive expansion (as seen in the video below), did not occur organically or through proselytizing. It happened at the point of a sword.

In this context, one can see that the 260 years of relative Islamic quiescence between 1683 and Israel’s creation wasn’t a permanent peace. For Islam, the problem was that the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, by powering Western engines, became too strong for Islam, which was primarily represented by the corrupt Ottomans and which was hopelessly mired in the Middle Ages.

During the 20th century, those Muslims who still dreamed of a caliphate realized that they had to re-group and they did, in the most toxic way possible. With a helpful assist from the West’s desperate need for oil thought to exist only under Muslim sands, Arab Nationalism, Islamism (with funding from Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations), and antisemitism blossomed all over the Muslim world.

After Israel’s creation, this toxicity was seen at its most obvious in the Palestinian’s battle against Israel.  Many people assumed that, because Israel was the only visible front in the war, that Israel was the cause of Islam’s anti-Western anger.  A longer view, of course, makes clear that Israel was just another front in a long war. One proof of this fact is that, with America having engaged in active warfare with Islamic nations, the same uninformed people tell us that these Bush-led wars are the reason for Islam’s anti-Western anger.  The fact is, though, that Islamic’s anger against everyone is hard-wired.

Having had an intellectual and (thanks to oil) financial resurgence, the Islamists spent the latter part of the 20th century, repeatedly poking and prodding the West to determine whether it was safe for radical Islamists to resume all-out warfare. Long before Bush went to war we had Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 assassination (by a violently anti-Zionist Christian Palestinian); the 1972 attack at the Munich Olympics (ostensibly aimed at Israel, but also a test of Western will, which the West failed); the 1976 hijacking that led to the raid at Entebbe (another test of Western will, which the West promptly failed); the 1979 Iranian revolution and hostage crisis, which Carter fumbled and which led to massive new funding and organization for radical Islam; Anwar Sadat’s 1981 assassination at the hand of radical Islamists; the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II by a Muslim Turk trained by Palestinians; the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut; the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the multiple US embassy bombings in 1998; the 2000 USS Cole bombing; and, of course, the culmination of all the preceding Islamic efforts: The September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and, had things gone right, the Capitol), resulting in the loss of 2,996 people, mostly Americans.

It took decades of ever-increasing provocation (increasing in both frequency and intensity) before America finally sat up and took notice of the Islamists’ fervent desire to engage us and destroy us in open warfare. To switch from my earlier agricultural metaphor to an elephant one, we were the sleeping elephant, and Islam was the sharp-toothed mouse that keep running up, biting our legs, and running away. We were irritated, but fundamentally unconcerned. It was only when that mouse stuffed a bomb up our trunk that we realized we had to act.

And when we acted, we acted wrong. We failed to realize that we were not in a war with individual tyrants or individual nations but, instead, had to do battle with an entire world view, one that has existed virtually unchanged since the 7th century. The ideology’s diffusion doesn’t mean that America shouldn’t or couldn’t invade the territories in which the most ardent practitioners of this world view have their strongholds. To the extent Islamists want conventional war, we should give them a snootful of conventional war. But because the ideology extends far beyond a small nation here or a big city there, there are two other things a Western nation must do if it has any hope of prevailing against the Islamists. It must (1) Attack the radical Islamist ideology and (2) reinforce the virtues and values of our own Western culture and our American nation.

Starting with George Bush, we neither attacked radical Islam nor celebrated America. At the White House level, both of our Presidents have gone out of their way to praise Islam. It’s a religion of peace, they’ve said. Most Muslims are good, they’ve said (which is true). We’re just going after a very narrow stratum of bad people who have perverted a wonderful, loving faith, they’ve said.

The only reason Obama has been more irritating in saying this than Bush was is because, Bush limited himself to talking about the word “Islam means peace” and praising the world’s non-militant Muslims. By contrast, Obama has been apologizing non-stop to the worst kind of Islamists since his first day in office; he’s been incredibly hostile to Israel, our ally in this long war; he consistently sided with the radical Muslim Brotherhood, rather than more reformist movements, during the Arab spring; and, in this last go-round, he’s taken upon himself the role of true apologist for the religion, carefully explaining to those who are breathing new life into Mohamed’s explicit instructions that they’re doing it wrong, and thereby inconveniencing him.

The Left wing establishment — in politics, in the media, in education, in Hollywood — has been delighted to follow both presidents’ lead when it comes to whitewashing Islam. Newspaper articles keep writing stories about men and women who, for reasons no one can ever seem to understand, suddenly start killing people while hollering “Allahu Akbar.” TV shows and movies have added to their repertoire of stock characters (e.g., black judges and police captains, Asian nerds, and women’s gay best friends) a new stock character: the saint-like Muslim who is wrongly maligned by racists with tea bags pinned to their lapels.

In schools, where facts sometimes have to be acknowledged, educators assure dewy-eyed children, adolescents, and young adults that, to the extent Muslims keeping doing things like blowing up people, planes, and buildings, they’ve done so only because we’ve baited them beyond bearing by using their oil. Protests about misogyny and homophobia have been brushed aside as quaint cultural artifacts that must be respected on multicultural grounds. This whitewashing job probably could have gone on forever if the Islamic State hadn’t gotten the bright idea of boasting about beheadings all over social media.

For thirteen (or thirty, or seventy) long years, America has failed utterly to state the stark truth: In the Quran, the Prophet Mohamed explicitly demands world domination, the slaughter of the Jews, the subordination of Christians, the physical and mental imprisonment of women, pedophilia against young girls, the death of gays, the death of apostates, and all the other anti-Western, anti-Enlightenment practices that repulse any non-Muslim who is able to see around the lies and obfuscations emanating from the White House, the political class, the entertainment world, and the education establishment.

What may be even worse than our refusal to acknowledge the monstrous theme of conquest running through Islamic doctrine and history, is a political, cultural, and educational class’s refusal to reinforce the worthiness of our own culture. Bush, bless his heart, did (and does) believe in American exceptionalism but, not only was he inarticulate on the subject (as was Romney), he was shouted down and drowned out by the media, by Hollywood, by America’s educational institutions, and by roughly half of our political class. President Obama, of course, holds no brief for America.

Since 2001, when al Qaeda, by bombing the Twin Towers, finally forced ordinary Americans to see that there’s a war going on, the loudest voices in America have alternately been accusing us of the worst kind of “isms,” while apologizing for who and what we are. A toxic combination of political correctness, multiculturalism, institutional feminism, the gay mafia, the La Raza crowd, the climate change hysterics, and all of the other usual suspects ranging from the Communist party to the Democrat party, resulted in our being subjected to a decade’s worth of anti-American venom spread far and wide.

Our children, who live in a world of public schools, TV shows, and movies (and, for these youngsters who fancy themselves to be budding intellectuals, heavily Left/Democrat newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, etc.), have been told relentlessly that Americans are misogynistic, patriarchal, racist, fanatically Christian, imperialist, and homophobic, and that we steal our nation’s vast wealth from poor people at home and abroad, transferring wealth solely to a cadre of angry, rich, white men who clutch Bibles in one hand and guns (complete with bullets labeled “this one’s for a black person”) in the other. Reality never intrudes into this institutionalized self-loathing.

The reality is that women are thriving in America, at men’s expense. In the Muslim world, they would be lucky if they were merely 2nd or 3rd class citizens. In a sharia-compliant country, women aren’t citizens at all; they are chattel, and poorly treated chattel at that.

The reality is that America is the least racist country in the world (with Israel probably following a close second). There will always be bad apples, but anyone who has ever stepped foot out of America knows that all other nations, regardless of color, routinely practice both social and institutional racism. The same is true of the Islamic world. While it likes to tout its color-blinded when compared to the 1950s Jim Crow south, it’s worth noting that the northern Sudanese Muslims (light brown), after purging their nation of Christians, then engaged in genocidal attacks against southern Sudanese Muslims (dark brown). Also, it’s worth noting that the confluence of the race hustlers and the feminists is abortion. Honest abortion supporters will admit that encouraging mass abortion in 2014 has the same intended purpose it did in 1914: to wipe out blacks and other “undesirables.

The reality is that, after more than a thousand years of often painful and destructive doctrinal refinement, the Western Judeo-Christian tradition ended slavery, emancipated women, freed children from the factory, and simultaneously elevated man’s highest impulses while taming his basest ones.

The reality is that, beginning with WWI and continuing through to the present day, America has never engaged in a true Imperial war, one that sees her invade a country, subordinate its people, and redirect its wealth to American coffers. Instead, America’s so-called “imperialism” consists of being the country that practically every Third World poor person wishes he could call home, and of having a culture that most young people around the world want to emulate. ISIS is the face of Muslim imperialism.

And lastly, the reality is that, while Americans have been cautious about jettisoning the definition of marriage that has been in place since time immemorial (a definition that harmonizes with the biological imperative of procreation) and while most Americans believe that the First Amendment shouldn’t force individuals to lend their labors to a marriage ceremony that clashes with their most closely held beliefs, Americans since the Stonewall riots have made a complete turnaround when it comes to accepting the entirety of the LGBTQ spectrum. While there will always be biased individuals and, sadly, individuals who bring violence to their bias, people across the sexual spectrum have exceptional freedom and respect in America, even as ordinary Americans engage in the delicate balancing act of respecting faith too. In Muslim countries, homosexuals are first lashed, then hanged.

America is a truly great and wonderful country. It’s not a perfect country, because humans are imperfect, but looking back through time and around the world, our nation is one of which we should all be rightfully proud. It’s beautiful, its people are friendly and hard-working, it still hews (at least in the heartlands) to a Judeo-Christian morality that elevates the individual in all ways, it’s rich at every level — in its land, in its many cultures, in its energy and innovation, and its people’s fundamental decency.

It’s a tragic — possibly a suicidal one — that for the last thirteen years, the loudest voices in America have worked hard to denigrate and hide her wonders, rather than celebrating and cultivating them. The result is that, as we stare at yet another war, the American people have been taught three things that ensure defeat:

1. America is a lousy country, not worth defending.
2. Islam is a religion of peace that has reared up only because lousy Israel and lousy America keep getting in its face.
3. The bad actors who pop up with increasing regularity and ferocity are not really Muslim.
4. In the absence of actual bad Muslims or Islamic nations, our military is reduced to fighting scattered and fragmented bad actors, and is incapable of doing so — and anyway, why should it do so? We Americans aren’t worthy.

It is our mindset thirteen years after 9/11 that had me wanting to name this post “Don’t Bother; We’ve Already Lost.”  A nation that loves its enemy and hates itself cannot win a war.

But maybe we haven’t lost just quite yet.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s true that where there’s life there’s hope.  And maybe we can change our political, social, entertainment, and education culture.

I know that, if it were up to me, I would trumpet America’s wonders to the sky. I would also make sure everyone knows of Islam’s myriad and quite dreadful failures, while simultaneously cultivating and elevating those who seek to reform Islam. (And yes, I know it’s a tough road to hoe, given Muhammad’s strictures, but it needs to be done.) In other words, I would fight a war of hearts and minds at home, rather than in foreign fields, populated by simple farmers steeped in Islamism. Only after winning, or at least beginning, this absolutely necessary war at home would I engage in conventional warfare — and, when I did, I’d listen to the military because, unlike a civilian constitutional law professor and community organizer, the military knows its capabilities best.

 

The Bookworm Beat (9/25/14) — Illustrated edition, and Open Thread

Getting my act together.  In the meantime….

I had to look twice at this one and then I thought “Wow, that’s clever!”

Obama For War

I don’t know that I’ve heard such a pithy analysis before about the fundamental incompatibility between socialism and the American way:

America founded on individual rights not group rights

As for the rest, I don’t have any specific comment. They speak for themselves. I’ll just add that all of these came courtesy of Caped Crusader:

Nancy Pelosi and the end of civilization

Birkenstocks on the ground

Fundamental transformation

Sowell on the most basic question

Islam and contributions to humanity

Chick-Fil-a and Saudi Arabia on gays

Everything in 2014 is less

Holder has resigned *UPDATED*

Holders view of criticsIt’s official:  Eric Holder has resigned.  NPR, to which Drudge linked, has a surprisingly negative assessment, since it begins its report, not by painting him in glowing terms, but by detailing the many scandals and conflicts attached to his very long run as attorney general.

My personal sense is that Holder sees a very lame duck period coming up and feels he’s already done what he needs to do:  through his hiring policies, he’s successfully turned the US Attorney General’s office into another branch of the Democrat Party.  It’s now time for him to avoid any further scandals down the line and head for a cushy lobbyist job.

UPDATE:  DrewM, being smarter than I am, thinks that the peculiar timing here means that (a) another shoe might be about to drop and (b) before that shoe drops, and with the possibility that the GOP has substantial gains in November, the administration wants a replacement confirmed ASAP.  DrewM’s strategic thinking  – and my lack of same — explains why I’m a lousy chess player.

UPDATE II:  Someone thinks that there’s a link between Holder’s resignation and the pressure on Ginsberg to resign.

Watcher’s Council nominations for September 24, 2014

Watcher's Council logoI hope you don’t get bored when, most weeks, I note here that it’s the “usual good stuff” from the Watcher’s Council. I like that phrase because it so accurately describes precisely what happens on a weekly basis at the Council: Council members look at their own week’s worth of writing and pick their favorite piece. Then they look at their own week’s worth of reading and pick their favorite piece. Since my fellow Council members are incredibly smart, well-informed, and well-read . . . well, you end up with the “usual good stuff“:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Obama’s latte salute is offensive because . . . death

The semper latte saluteAh, yes.  The infamous “latte salute.”  If you haven’t heard about it yet, Obama walked off a helicopter insouciantly clutching an environmentally-deadly Styrofoam latte cup in his right hand.  When the two Marines waiting at the base of steps offered him a smart salute, Obama, who seemed to avoid looking at them, vaguely pawed his forehead with the hand holding that cup and then walked on.  Here, see it for yourself:

People in the military and conservatives were outraged. Liberals have been outraged at the outrage. Here are a few of the comments I’ve culled from liberals on my “real me” Facebook page:

Obama isn’t military so he shouldn’t be expected to salute.

Reagan started the saluting trend, and there’s no reason to continue it.

Obama has the weight of the world on his shoulders, so it’s ridiculous to expect him to salute.

If you’re going to demand saluting, why not require all presidents to be ex-military. [Bookworm:  Not a bad idea, but the liberal who wrote that was obviously being sarcastic.]

We all do things like waving a “hi” while holding a coffee cup. He’s a good guy and sincere.

For military people, the honor of directly serving the president outweighs all other things.

Weak leaders like Reagan (who sold arms to terrorists) disguise their weakness by saluting.

Bush did worse, because he hugged a dog when saluting. [Bookworm:  What I see, given my bias, is that Bush found himself holding a dog, and struggled to construct the best salute possible under the circumstances.]

Bush salutes while holding dog

You get the idea. Progressives simply cannot understand why Obama’s failure to perform this silly, formulaic act should excite so much disgust amongst the president’s critics. Certainly, the Left is correct that, just as they viewed every eyebrow twitch on George Bush’s face as a sign of evil or stupidity, conservatives are watching Obama like a hawk for proof that he is indeed a far-Left ideologue, who is hostile to America’s core values and interests. In what is still a kind-of-free political system, this partisanship is natural.

Conservatives, however, are on to something deeper than mere politics or tradition when they look with disgust at Obama’s almost studied disrespect for the Marines. As I mentioned above, you need to look at his body language. It’s not just the limp, cup-in-hand salute he offers; it’s the way he rushes past the Marines, refusing to make any eye contact.

Obama, unlike Eisenhower (whom Leftists note was a general who did not salute the troops), is a wartime president. More than that, he is presiding over the longest war in American history and one, moreover, that appears to be heating up significantly on his watch, with an indefinite, probably far off, end-point.

It doesn’t matter that Obama is trying to distinguish himself from George Bush by promising that his latest war won’t be “boots on the ground” fight.  We know that this promise is as untrue as all of Obama’s other promises. After all, Bush also tried a no-boots-on-the-ground strategy, which rejoiced under the name “Shock & Awe.”  That strategy failed dismally until the boots-on-the-ground Surge turned the tide.

No boots on the ground in Iraq

The reality is that you can bomb battleships and military bases, but you cannot bomb disparate individuals who can instantly melt into the surrounding landscape and population. The only way to deal with that is hand-to-hand combat. That’s what the Israel did to win back Jerusalem in 1967 and to destroy Hamas’s tunnels in 2014; and it’s what the US did to destroy the Iraqi Islamic fanatics in places such as Fallujah.

Gunnery Sergeant Ryan P. Shane shot while trying to rescue fatally wounded Marine at Fallujah

Gunnery Sergeant Ryan P. Shane shot while trying to rescue fatally wounded Marine at Fallujah

The problem with boots-on-the-ground fighting is that people die. They die in especially large numbers during the first days of fighting, when the Commander-in-Chief is trying to convince the public in a republican democracy that a ground fight really is a good idea. Sure, these fights produce incredible tales of heroism that are still told around military campfires by modern-day bards, but at the end of the day, a culture that still values most life (more or less, depending on whether the life has already been born or isn’t yet aging its way to death) is left staring at a long list of names carved into a wall.

Marine 1st Sergeant Bradley Kasal

Marine 1st Sergeant Bradley Kasal in Fallujah.

Moreover, because our Constitution (possibly with an eye to our first president) designates any sitting president as Commander-in-Chief, the American way is for the president to command that all these young men be sent to potential death. This power over life and death is especially large if you’re a Commander-in-Chief who insists on ignoring the clear language in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that “Congress shall have the Power . . . to declare War” and, instead, contends that he doesn’t need no stinkin’ Congress.  He’s the Obama and has the imperial power to declare war.

Not only has Obama given himself the sole power to send these men into battle, he’s doing so at a time when he’s shrinking our military to a size and readiness more consistent with an America right before World War I than with an America fighting a sadistic, hydra-headed enemy all over the world in a battle that has lasted for more than a decade and that promises at least another several years to come. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that more war with less military probably means more military deaths.

So what about that salute? From a lower rank to a higher rank, a salute is obviously a sign of deference. When returned by that higher rank to the lower rank, it’s a sign of respect. The higher ranking officer is recognizing the individual serviceman’s humanity, his training, and his willingness to go into battle. Never is this mutual respect more important than with a Commander-in-Chief who is in the actual process of making life-and-death decisions about these troops.

Given this relationship between America’s Commander-in-Chief and his troops, it’s stunning that Obama’s whole body language says “I don’t see you. You’re not there. You’re not worthy.” Perhaps that’s understandable.  It’s so much easier to send the invisible, unworthy ones into battle than to do so with real human beings. After all, as Stalin tellingly remarked to Churchill when the two met at Tehran, “When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it’s statistics.”

In other words, when conservatives see a Leftist Commander-in-Chief — one who is uncomfortable with the military and who seeks to cut it down to size, even as he plans to send more troops into battle — rush past saluting Marines, avoiding eye contact, and making a bare pretense of a salute, they see a Commander-in-Chief who is saying “Eh, they’re just statistics. Why bother?”

Disaster preparedness is a necessity for smart people and true conservatives

Loma Prieta damage in 1989

Loma Prieta damage in 1989

Over the past several years, our town and the next town over have worked hard to bring disaster preparedness from the government level down to the community level.  Neighborhood emergency disaster preparedness operates on the assumption that, in the event of a major emergency, government will not be there to help.

Here in Marin, we don’t base this assumption on a concern that our government emergency services are corrupt, under-funded, or inept.  Indeed, I’d say that the contrary is true in Marin.  Our local emergency services (fire, police, ambulance) are excellent:  They’re well-funded, there’s never been a smidgen of corruption, and the people on all these forces are enthusiastic, hard-working and well-trained.

These emergency services, though, exist for routine events:  a house fire, a robbery, a traffic accident. They are not intended to handle a massive earthquake — nor should they be.  Given that earthquakes happen at completely random, and usually lengthy, intervals, it would be insane for our community to fund in perpetuity emergency services large enough to cope with a rare (but still inevitable) disaster.

Given  funding realities, should “the Big One” (as Bay Area residents refer to the next anticipated earthquake) hit, it’s a reasonable certainty that people in our community will find themselves going for three to ten days without any access to emergency services, food, potable water, first aid, and shelter.  This is where we have a choice:  we can wait helpless for government first responders, or we can be our own first responders, taking responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors.

Here’s how it works:  At the most basic level, every household should purchase the life-sustaining supplies needed for three to ten days without access to stores, hospitals, fresh water, and shelter.  The rule of thumb is that neighbors will pool resources for a day or two, but it if looks as if the emergency conditions will last any longer than that, it’s every household for itself.

Unfortunately, while it’s easy enough to say “Buy supplies,” the reality is that most people are governed by inertia.  Too many people really do mean to stock up the next time they’re at Costco or Safeway, but when the time comes, they forget, or they haven’t made a place to put the supplies, or they just don’t feel up to the rigors of buying all the stuff, loading it in the car, and then unloading it again at the other side.  They’ll do it another day, they tell themselves.  Somehow, though, that other day never arrives.

What turns out to be the best system to ensure that the greatest number of households act intelligently before, during, and after a disaster is a neighborhood preparedness committee.  When a newspaper article reminds you to stock up supplies, you might think “Eh, I’ll get it done eventually.”  When your neighbor sits on your couch with you and explains what you need and how to get it, it lights a bigger fire, and ensures greater effort.  Likewise, when you get yet another email from yet another organization, you might ignore it.  But when a neighbor hosts a party to take about basic information (supplies, gathering spots, knowing who your neighbors are, etc.), there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be there, you’ll listen, and you’ll learn.

An organized neighborhood is also extraordinarily helpful when the disaster does strike.  This is the neighborhood that will have given already ensured that homeowners have supplies and that they know how to turn off their gas and prevent potentially contaminated water from flowing into their homes.   A prepared community will have block captains who go to the houses on their watch to make sure gas lines are closed, to perform the most basic injury triage (and first aid, if necessary), and to gather information about everyone’s whereabouts and status.  In this neighborhood, homeowners will have signs to place in their windows so that the block captain instantly see whether that home is “OK” or needs “HELP.”  (Even OK homes will eventually get a visit, but not on the first, triage pass.) If homes are destroyed, the prepared neighborhood will know where the emergency gathering spot is.

Lastly and most importantly, when the government “first responders” eventually show up (long after the neighborhood has already provided the actual first response), the organized neighborhood will be able to offer easily accessible information about fatalities, injuries, local dangers (leaking gas lines, downed electrical lines, etc.).  Experience shows that this level of preparedness results in the fastest attention from government emergency services.  This isn’t a case of bias or bribes on the government’s part; it’s a case of the path of least resistance.  If an emergency care provider has heading towards him a level-headed person with a list and a screaming mad-woman, he’ll turn gratefully to the list holder and try to pass the mad-woman off to someone else.

All over Marin, local communities have been accelerating their efforts to get organized.  As more neighborhoods prepare, those neighborhoods that don’t will be left out in the cold.  Their homes will be bare of survival essentials, their response to an actual disaster will be chaotic, and emergency services will give them the cold shoulder in favor of other, better-organized neighborhoods.

In my neighborhood, I’ve been invited to join the steering committee.  You won’t be surprised to learn that my role is communications.  As a committee member, I now get to attend the community-wide meetings for representatives of all the neighborhood organizations.  When I went to last night’s meeting (my first), whom should I see but our own Charles Martel?

At first, I was surprised to see Charles.  I shouldn’t have been.  For starters, he’s an exceptionally decent and intelligent human being, so it made total sense that he would volunteer himself to be in the front line of organization and preparedness both before and during a disaster.  It’s more than that, though.  Charles is a principled conservative who believes that government cannot and should not be responsible for everything in our lives.  We know what that looks like:

Hurricane Katrina victims, lacking any resources, clog New Orleans freeways.

Hurricane Katrina victims, lacking any resources, clog New Orleans freeways.

Conservatives recognize that government cannot be responsible for every eventuality in our lives. More than that, we understand that it should not be responsible for all things, because that gives it way too much power.

Understanding these facts is one thing. Acting upon them is another. We conservatives like to focus on trying to elect politicians who promise small government. Too often, though, once they’re in Washington or a state capital, these politicians either prove to be an ineffectual minority or, worse, they come down with “government spending disease” and think their responsibility ends with keeping the price tag down on yet another Big Government initiative.

What we all can and should do is something closer to home: We should be at the front lines when it comes to encouraging people to take care of themselves. When there’s a vacuum, government will fill it. If we make sure to fill that vacuum before government does, we’ve done our bit to help shrink Big Government. At the same time, we’ve also ensured that we will be in better shape in the long run than those who believe that Big Government is the one and only answer.

Having said that, I’d like to request help from you, my fellow citizens:  Because I am a procrastinator, I understand better than many the inertia that prevents people from getting in their car, driving to the local mall, and stocking up on home earthquake supplies. I’ve found that one of the ways to fight that procrastination is to make the shopping so easy that even the most shopping-averse, lazy, in denial person has no excuses. The answer, of course, is Amazon — and, even better, Amazon Prime.  You can shop from your home, at your leisure, and everything comes straight to your door.  What could be better?

The problem with Amazon, though, is that there are too many choices.  A single person could spend a lifetime trying to find the best quality, best priced emergency supplies at Amazon.  I’d rather use crowd sourcing.

My goal is to put together an Amazon shopping list that has on it the most highly recommended emergency supplies, everything from paper plates to can openers to flash lights to toilet paper to can openers to foil-sealed water (lasts 5 years) to food stuff to first aid kits. I know that not everyone should, will, or wants to everything from Amazon, but I still want a vetted list that enables someone looking for any or all necessary supplies can trust to provide purchase information.

Vetted supplies suitable for my Amazon earthquake list must be (a) high quality and (b) best price, keeping in mind the purpose for which the supplies are intended.  No one wants to buy a $900, 10-person, all-weather tent for a possible emergency when Amazon offers a highly rated, easy-to-assemble, some-weather tent for $110 dollars.  It’s even better if the tent ships free using Prime or it qualifies for Amazon’s “free shipping for purchases over $35.

So here’s my request:  If you have purchased emergency supplies lately from Amazon, and you feel that your purchase meets my “vetted supplies” criteria, please send me a link for that product, either through an email (bookwormroom * at * gmail.com) or by leaving a comment here.

Does it make sense to spend money to entice poor people to parks?

YellowstoneOne of the things we’ve always noticed when we’ve traveled to America’s magnificent state and national parks is that we see almost no black or Hispanic faces and, when we see Asian faces, they’re almost invariably Japanese tourists.  The vast bulk of the visitors at these parks are white middle class people.  It’s obviously a cultural thing, because this holds true whether the parks are cheap or expensive, or near to or far from heavily populated areas (which implicates ease and expense of access).

Marin County has taken note of this discrepancy at its own parks and has decided to invest $84,000 in programs aimed at enticing poor people and minorities to come to parks:

Officials awarded $84,000 to six programs that encourage “a more diverse community of visitors” at county parks, with much of the cash going to a nutrition and family fitness group, LIFT-Levantate, for a “park ambassador” program.

The Board of Supervisors approved “Measure A” sales tax grants benefiting the poor and minority communities as recommended by parks officials.

I was going to say that, since their taxes help support these parks, maybe it makes sense bringing their attention to the fact that they can enjoy the parks. It then occurred to me that their taxes do not support the parks because, if they are poor, they’re presumably in the 51% of Americans who get a free ride tax-wise.

It seems to me that the parks are there and it’s kind of up to people to find them if they want to. Having said that, I realize that I live in a bubble: upper middle-class, well-connected, well-educated, well-informed — and the child of poor immigrants who thought that driving to a national park was an extraordinarily wonderful vacation for children, especially since we couldn’t afford airplane trips anywhere, whether to Europe or even the East Coast.

What do you think? I can’t decide whether my instinct — “This is silly!” — is sensible, curmudgeonly, or class-ist.

The Bookworm Beat (9/23/14) — Obama is a scary dude edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingI’ve been in continuous domestic goddess mode since 6:30 a.m. That’s a ten-hour day of domestic goddess-hood. My house sparkles, my refrigerator is full, my closets bulge with clean laundry, my bills are paid, my correspondence (most of it) put in the “done” file and, except for the fact that I haven’t even had a chance to bathe today (yes, please hold your nose), I’d look exactly like June Cleaver if you’d dress me in a cute frock with a lace collar and pearls. Just for today, this should be my “Bookworm Beat” picture:

Another day in paradise housewife homemaker

Now, though, for a few minutes, I can throw off my housewife’s garb and be “Super Blogger.” I’ll be quick about it, so my apologies for the “dictated but not read” level of errors you might find:

Baron Münchhausen lives!

The Diplomad takes a look at Obama’s rich fantasy life, all of which would be funny if he didn’t occupy the once-upon-a-time most powerful office in the world.

A permanent Democrat majority?

A lot of astute thinkers believe that’s precisely what most of Obama’s policies are directed towards achieving: not just a Leftward shift in American governance, but a permanent Democrat majority to keep it that way. You can now add Ed Lasky to the list. He explains why here.

Obama makes ISIS look even scarier

Let’s see, now — we’ve got an avowed enemy that’s soaking the Middle Eastern desert sands in blood from thousands of severed heads and that promises to bring the war home; we’ve got a military that’s being shrunk down to pre-WWI size; and we’ve got a commander-in-chief who knows nothing about warfare but refuses to listen to the generals and admirals who will have to fight this enemy using their shrunken (but appropriately feminized, gay, transsexual, and transgender pre-WWI army. I don’t know about you, but I find this a frightening scenario.

Oh, and the ignorant president also disrespects the military, something proven yet again with the salute now known as the “semper latte salute“:

The Marines will lay down their lives for him, he is their commander in chief and the living emblem of the nation for which they fight, and he can’t be bothered to return the sign of respect they send his way.

Obama makes ISIS look even scarier, Part II

And let’s not forget the fact that Obama’s every speech has shown his affection for Islam and, when he’s not constrained by Congress or overwhelming public opinion, his every act has too.

Obama makes everything look scarier

Bret Stephens wraps it all up by explaining that Obama’s profound, all-encompassing ignorance is the most scary thing of all.

Obama is a scary dude

Thomas Sowell points out that Obama truly believes that, if he just doesn’t call it war or doesn’t go to war, the bad guys will respect his decision:

Barack Obama has done more than anyone else to promote the dangerous illusion that we can choose whether to have a war or not. But our enemies have already made that choice.

Retired Marine Corps General James Mattis said: “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it’s over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”

Of course, it’s not just Obama

The ignorance about radical Islam doesn’t stop with Obama. VDH points out that this obdurate blindness emanates from every nook and cranny of our governing class.

And yeah, everybody’s lying to you

You know what I think of when I hear that Ebola’s spread is way worse than any authorities are admitting? I think of this:

There is some good news

The two men who killed Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach (whose tragic, early deaths may have saved Israel leading to revelations about the terror tunnels) died in a shoot-out. On a comment thread I saw, one person said it was a shame they died and didn’t suffer the rest of their lives in jail.

Others disagreed. They said it was great the murderers were dead, because if they were alive, there was always the risk they’d be set free in some exchange forced upon Israel by the U.S. The U.S. ought to think about a policy that leads ordinary people to believe that something equivlant to vigilante justice is really the only justice.

More to follow? I don’t know. I have a town meeting to go to tonight. If I still have energy upon my return, I’ll try to write a little more.

The Bookworm Beat (9/22/14) — Everything and the Kitchen Sink edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingAll day today, I kept heading up to my computer to read and blog, and every time I neared my office, a powerful domestic and/or maternal and/or social tractor beam pulled me away. At last, though, I broke free of the tractor beam and I’m here, trying frantically to impart to you all the cool things I read in the last hour or so:

A few climate change issues

Reason took a camera to the Climate Change parade in New York this past weekend. It was not a pretty sight, nor did the people interviewed show any signs of intelligent life:

Byron York tackles the hodge podge of hard-Left issues folded under the global warming/climate change banner at the parade. As I read it, he concludes that the virtue of climate change is that, like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, it’s big enough to hold everything.

The people and groups Reason and York examine are fanatics, often without a smidgen of common sense to back up their fervent beliefs:

New York Climate march

Given their insane fanaticism, one has to wonder why they’re so comfortable with marching behind celebrities who are responsible for huge amounts of carbon pollution. Some of the celebrities, though, are completely in sync with the Left’s demand for punitive totalitarianism.

Oh, and one more thing: One of my intelligent, rather open-minded, but still quite Leftist friends on Facebook linked to an article that announces “Eight Pseudoscientific Climate Claims Debunked by Real Scientists.” Considering that one of the Left’s favorite “real scientists” is a serial liar (that would be Neil DeGrasse Tyson), I’m not sure I should accept these debunkings at face value. I am, however, not in a position for the next several days to drill down into the debunkings. I wonder if any of you have the time and inclination to do so. If these “debunkings” really do challenge the arguments made by those of us opposed to climate change hysteria, I think we ought to know.

Let’s talk Islam

It was incredibly heartening today to speak with a friend of mine, a liberal, who is one of the kindest, least violent, most gentle, most faith-filled people I know. To her, war is been anathema. But as she told me, she’s been following ISIS closely, it’s terrifying, and she thinks we ought to wipe it out swiftly and entirely. I can’t say that I disagree.

One of the problems with wiping ISIS out, along with other radical Islamist groups, is that wiping out one Islamic pathology seems to lead to another one. You know, get rid of Saddam Hussein . . . open the door to ISIS. Here are a few links about repeating Islamic pathologies:

1.  Gazans are finally admitting the truth of what Israel said all during Operation Protective Edge: Hamas was using Gaza civilians as targets for propaganda purposes.

2.  The Arab world is terribly, dreadfully sick, and it’s neither the West’s nor Israel’s fault. (I consider this a must-read article, and urge you to share it with friends through social media.)

3.  James Lewis makes an incredibly important distinction about ISIS and the other radical Islamic groups: they’re not psychopaths; they’re sadists:

What’s the difference? It’s very simple: psychopaths don’t feel guilt about hurting other people, but sadists take active pleasure in committing horrors that civilized people can’t even look at. In his pornographic novels the Marquis de Sade wrote about taking sexual pleasure from torturing and even murdering innocents. That is where we get the term “sadism.”

The fascination with sadism in our world has been a long time coming, Lewis writes, but it’s reached its apogee with the radical Islamists.

ISIS is a sadistic war cult. It attracts people who take joy in torturing women and children. You can easily see the difference in their facial expressions. Psychopaths have “flat” expressions, like Vladimir Putin. Sadists show a kind of demonic joy when others are suffering. They are the classic face of human evil.

Also, it’s important to note Islam isn’t always the only problem in a region.  Some parts of the world are so desperately dysfunctional that you can’t possibly distinguish the good guys from the bad. For example, Boko Haram is one of the most evil organizations in the world . . . and, to no ones surprise, it’s Islamic. Except that it seems that the Nigerian military troops sent out to fight it may be just as evil. (Was it only yesterday that I said Africa must be one of the most accursed places on earth, suffering every plague man and nature can devise?)

Lies, damn lies, and polls

We tend to have incredible reverence for polls. Polls, however, are like any other data driven thing: garbage in, garbage out. That’s why you should view with some skepticism the poll that has a plurality of Americans thinking individual business proprietors who have deeply held religious beliefs opposing gay marriage should nevertheless be forced at the point of the state’s gun to provide their services for those weddings.

Lies, damn lies, and women’s studies

Christina Hoff Sommers looks at the lies that the women’s movement promulgates as it tries desperately to denigrate the incredibly high status and freedom women enjoy in America:

Prince Charming turns into Prince Harming

As Earl Aagaard said when he sent this to me (and I’m paraphrasing), wouldn’t it be great if there were more ads like this one?

Pot-providing reporter who fires herself on air reveals deep problems with media

You’ve probably all heard about, or even seen, the video of the reporter in Alaska who did a story about an election battle over legalizing pot. The story was manifestly slanted in favor of an Alaskan “medical marijuana” provider that argued that, even though medical marijuana is allowed in Alaska, the proposed bill would harm people who benefit from medical marijuana. After doing this report in full “news” mode, the reporter then announced that she owned the medical marijuana club in question and, mouthing obscenities, quit the job.

Aside from being quite a story, Ace points out what a terrible indictment it is of the ordinary newscasts all of us are used to seeing.

Virginal purity bodes well for a happy marriage

A new study says that the more chaste you are before marriage, the more happy you’ll be once you’re married. There are a lot of people in unhappy marriages who are problem saying to themselves “I wish I’d known this sooner and hadn’t bought into the bill of goods sold by our sex-saturated, values-free society.”

Drive responsibly

A charming, moving little commercial reminding people to drink responsibly:

There is still good in the world

Sometimes people are too paralyzed with shock to do the right thing. If they get nudged in the proper direction, though, people (especially American people) can be incredibly brave and good.

Pictures (thanks to Caped Crusader and Sadie)

Bill de Blasio and his wife at the Mermaid Parade

If that pirate looks vaguely familiar, it’s New York mayor Bill de Blasio at the Mermaid Parade, along with his wife.

Syria v Detroit

Immigrants demand change

Why term limits are smart

Gun control activists

Whites don't riot

The rich are deadbeats

Global warming causes crime rate

The Bookworm Beat (9/21/14) — quick links before Monday hits, and Open Thread

Woman writingI can feel the demands of Monday creeping up already, so I thought I’d rush through a few things that people (mostly the wonderful Earl Aagaard) were kind enough to send me. Here goes:

Why do American Muslims love Obama, while non-American Muslims hate him?

Here’s a conundrum: Obama is hugely popular with American Muslims, but deeply disliked by Muslim’s in the Middle East. What gives? Richard Fernandez offers a very credible explanation.

Why do we keep inviting our executioner into America?

Here’s how it works: Muslims make their own countries unlivable, slaughtering each other by the hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands. Whichever is on the losing side of a given country’s religious civil war (either Shia or Sunni) looks understandably pathetic, especially because so many of the victims are children.

American Christians, who are very good people, feel a moral obligation to reach out to the pathetic losers in a given country’s civil war. Part of this outreach includes inviting these poor, victimized Muslims into America. What the Christians don’t realize is that there’s a pecking order in the Muslim world. When you’ve established your sect’s dominance in a territory, the next in line to dominate are the Christians.

Imam Obama wrong

Obama is a lousy president. He’s also a lousy Imam. When he insisted that Islam is inconsistent with ISIS, he was flat-out incorrect in interpreting Islamic doctrine.

Study finds gross and pervasive antisemitism at UCLA

It seems as if every American university’s Near East Studies department has been co-opted by Leftists and Islamists whose primary goal is to institutionalize anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiment. UCLA is just the latest on the list.

I wish there was a way for us taxpayers to opt out of funding these dreadful institutions of lower education. Oh, wait! There is a way. We could stop electing Democrats and Republicans, and start electing conservatives.

Raquel Welch — Are you ready to die?

iOwnTheWorld.com notices that Ezekiel Emanuel’s pronouncement that American’s should be patriotic and die at 75 might affect at least one famous person who doesn’t look at all ready for the grave.

If only we could get Emanuel, who’s basically Jack Kevorkian with political power, to absorb some of the Right’s deep humanism on this subject. I recommend starting with Mike McDaniel’s post.

Who’s going to be at fault if Republicans don’t win the Senate?

Laura Ingraham knows who’s going to be a fault if Republicans are unable to win the Senate despite Obama’s other and Democrats’ deep unpopularity. Actually, we all know — it’s the damn Republican establishment that’s at fault, because it manifestly cares most about friends in Washington and about cheap labor to make the Chamber of Commerce types happy . . . never mind the rest of Americans who watch the benefits of a weak recovery go primarily to immigrants, many of them here illegally.

I elaborate on this point at the Watcher’s Council forum, as do several Council members and honored guests.  All The Right Snark also has a pretty good idea about what’s wrong.

Moonbats on parade

The climate changistas had their today, and the pictures make you want to laugh until you realize how these lunatics have gained almost complete control over the Western world’s political bodies.

Yes, terrorism is a default setting

From its inception at the beginning of the 7th century until 1683, when the Ottoman Turks were stopped at the Gates of Vienna, Islam functioned through terrorism. After this thousand-year run, Islam spent 290 years somewhat dormant.  It caused local problems (resulting in Churchill’s famous set-down of the religion, a set-down now illegal in England), but it stopped aiming at the West’s heard.

Islam’s enforced passivity changed in the 1970s, when violent Islam became resurgent (think: PLO, followed by Iran). That’s why, when the Milt Rosenberg show tackled the question of whether terrorist mass murder is now the default setting for radical Islam, my answer has to be “yes.” Barring that 290 year hiatus, mass terrorism was a system that worked very effectively for the Muslims for about 1,000 years.

Calvin & Hobbes shows that Common Core’s been around for a while now

Just go and enjoy!

The problem when people with secrets make the rules

You gotta love this one: After two-year-old emails embarrassed the Los Angeles School Board, the Board decided that, rather than clean up its act, it would simply order that, henceforth, emails are to get destroyed after one year. Apparently the school board is a big fan of the IRS.

Africa is a truly benighted continent

I’m sorry, but there’s some curse over Africa. It’s not just that Ebola is the latest disaster to hit that continent. It’s that in the uproar, the Africans are starting to kill each other as fast as the Ebola does.

When you add to this newest plague the other plagues that blight Africa — chronic malaria, AIDS, droughts, famines, tribal wars, Muslim v. Christian wars, Muslim v. Muslim wars, black v. white wars, Communist v. ordinary people wars, madmen wars, etc. — you have to believe that long ago, when early man first emerged from the jungle in Africa, he must have done something so dreadful that God laid a curse on the land to last in perpetuity.

Americans don’t force religion on people

I don’t have a problem with the Pledge of Allegiance, even though it mentions the dreaded word “God.” I have a problem with atheists trying to erase God from public life, which is not something the Founders envisioned. However, I, like Greg at Rhymes With Right, also have a problem with schools trying to bully atheist children who opt to sit quietly and unobtrusively during the pledge.

I know I posted this one before, but it deserves posting again.

I know I posted this one before, but it deserves posting again.

The Bookworm Beat (9/21/14) — Illustrated edition

I’ve managed to cross only half the items off my to-do list today, and I’ve been at it non-stop since 7:30 this morning.  I keep waiting for things to slow down, but they never do….

Still, the good thing about my own Facebook page (which has lots of Israel-friendly links) and about good friends like Caped Crusader (who provided the bulk of the illustrations you see below) is that, even when I’m too backed up to write anything interesting, I still have wonderful content for you.  I am assuming, of course, that you like these posters as much as I do.  I very much enjoy it when complex ideas can be reduced in an intelligent and amusing way to a single sentence or two.

Who's killing Muslims

Minimum wage workers

Marines get the terrorists to God

Capitalism v socialism

The Crusades weren't so stupid after all

More horrified by Merry Christmas than beheadings

Racist to recite facts re obamacare

The TSA versus securing our borders

Who knew Obama was an Islamic scholar

Obama administration defines war and not war

Who was Karl Marx

Democrats slaves and illegal immigrants

Clinton gets away with hitting women

Obama needs to be held up to same standards as a white president

Clinton and Obama tell the big lies

The US traded for Bowe Bergdahl but not James Foley

Opportunity is disguised as hard work

Voter ID laws are not racist

Arming the good Syrian rebels

What people are willing to stand for

Islam doesn't promote real God

Obama voters idiots or traitors

How coexist really works

Batman on what's Islamic

Military casual Friday

The idea that evil deserves a fair chance

Charlie Daniels on the MSM

Change who you send to Washington

Madison on complicated laws

Hillary born a poor black child

Hillary is morally bankrupt

Rushing out the door Open Thread

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556I was in perpetual motion yesterday, driving teenagers all over the place, to both sports and social activities. My day ended at 11:30 at night, by which time writing was no longer an option. Today is moving in the same direction. I’m leaving now for several hours of rec soccer and shopping, all of which are 40 miles from home. Still, I wanted to share a few things with you and leave you with some music.

Thing 1: As the Middle East gets worse and worse, with President Obama saying that he’s going to be, not just Commander in Chief, but the only commander, Leon Panetta breaks his silence to say that it was Obama’s idea — against the military’s best advice — to pull completely out of Iraq, creating the vacuum that the Islamic State has now filled. The only good thing I can think that’s coming from the current situation in Iraq is that, with Muslims from the world over answering the Islamic State’s siren song, destroying self-styled the Islamic State should be like shooting fish in a barrel. Too bad our military leader, instead of blowing up the whole damn barrel at once, plans to extract each individual fish with tweezers.

Thing 2: As the Democrats hammer away at the meme that American colleges and universities are more dangerous for women than South African slums, Glenn Reynolds has the answer:

The real problem, which the Democrats having created wish to ignore, is that parents and taxpayers are still funding colleges and universities that have abandoned their in loco parentis role. An 18 year old doesn’t have the sense to be released into the world without some oversight. Universities once gave that oversight. Now they just promote the myth that one in five women are going to be raped, without changing their anarchic culture of co-ed dorms, male and female binge drinking, and an administration that springs into action only after the fact, when it can persecute and, without due process, prosecute young men.

Thing 3: Beautiful, spooky, mystical pictures from panorama shots gone awry.

Music 1: A rock song with a country lyric: “I used to be love drunk; now I’m hungover.”

Music 2: A classic, from Harry James and Helen Forrester: